Las Vegas: Round 19 preview

*LVMS' higher banking, new pit road debut this week *Drivers who tested Goodyear tires say it will be fast NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Heads For 'New' Las Vegas DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2006) -- At Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week,...

*LVMS' higher banking, new pit road debut this week
*Drivers who tested Goodyear tires say it will be fast

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Heads For 'New' Las Vegas

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 18, 2006) -- At Las Vegas Motor Speedway this week, all bets are off.

Or put another way, drivers and crew chiefs can leave any preconceptions about the 1.5-mile track at home before they arrive for Saturday's Smith's Las Vegas 350.

LVMS hasn't changed locations. But the track itself has changed dramatically. No longer can it be called a semi-banked or "flat" oval.

Banking in the turns has been increased from 12 to 20 degrees with walls raised approximately 15 feet to accommodate the changes.

The backstretch, formerly banked three degrees, has been increased to nine degrees -- the same as the frontstretch banking.

Drivers -- and race fans -- won't recognize pit road, which has been moved 275 feet closer to the grandstands.

The track surface itself is complete but some of the infield infrastructure remains a work in progress and won't be completed until the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series arrives for its March 11 event.

Saturday's race, however, will be a much-awaited preview of competition to come.

"This may be the most anticipated race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in quite some time," said Chris Powell, the track's general manager. "The increased banking will almost certainly produce more competitive racing. With pit road being moved closer to the grandstands, race fans are going to be closer to the action than ever before.

"We've made this a fan's race track and a driver's race track and we can't wait to show it off."

What The Drivers Are Saying About Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Mike Skinner (No. 5 Toyota Tundra Toyota) holds the Las Vegas Motor Speedway one-lap record at 165.230 mph.

Odds are excellent the mark won't last past Saturday's first qualifier.

Three drivers who participated in recent Goodyear Tire tests believe the track will be at least one second faster with speeds well into the 170 mph range.

"The track is really good. It's fast and smooth and the progressive banking they've built into the track should be great for racing," said Todd Bodine (No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota), the 2005 winner.

Said Rick Crawford (No. 14 Circle Bar Truck Corral Ford), "While there are similarities to other tracks, the new Vegas is one-of-a-kind."

Dennis Setzer (No. 85 FlexFuel E85 Chevrolet) believes the track could have some of the characteristics of Atlanta Motor Speedway -- arguably the most competitive track on the schedule.

"I think their hopes are that the racing will be better," he said. "They want to see faster speeds and we're definitely going to see that.

"The changes have created a pretty awesome track."

-credit: nascar

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Series NASCAR Truck
Drivers Todd Bodine , Mike Skinner , Dennis Setzer , Rick Crawford